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July 2009 Chirurgeon's Message

Salt

Previously, we had an article regarding the importance of water while enjoying our events especially during our hot summers. This month we will discuss water's counterpart - Salt.

Why do we need salt?

Salt or sodium, is an electrolyte that your body needs. Electrolytes are minerals that dissolve in water and can carry electrical charges. Pure water does not conduct electricity, but water containing salt does.

The three major electrolytes are sodium, potassium and chloride. Other body electrolytes are magnesium, calcium, zinc, and many others in very small amounts (called trace minerals). They are electrically charged so they can carry nutrients into and out of your cells. They also carry messages along your nerves and help control your heartbeat.

Since your body is made mostly of water, these minerals can be found everywhere in your body. They are inside your cells, in the spaces between your cells, in your blood, your lymph, and everywhere else. Since they have an electrical charge they can move through you cell membranes and thus carry other nutrients with them into the cells and waste products and excess water out of the cells.

How much salt?

Although some sodium is essential for survival, inadequate sodium intake is a rare problem. We need less than 500 milligrams of sodium a day to stay healthy. This is enough to accomplish all the vital functions that sodium performs in the body - helping maintain normal fluid levels, healthy muscle function, stomach & nerve function and proper acidity (called pH) of the blood. As we said, excessive sodium intake can cause fluid to be retained in the tissues, which can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure) and can aggravate many medical disorders, including congestive heart failure, certain forms of kidney disease, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Losing Salt?

When you sweat a lot, it is sometimes thought that you need to take extra salt; however, most of us get plenty of salt in our diet. When you are excessively sweating due to exercise and hot weather, you are using a lot of electrolytes then it is recommended that you take some type of electrolyte replacement drink, sports drinks are an example.

Loss of electrolytes

Diarrhea or vomiting can also cause you to quickly lose electrolytes (especially potassium) with the fluid. You need to replace the fluids and electrolytes quickly.

A good way to do this is to make an 8 ounces glass of a mixture of apple, orange and other fruit juices with half a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of ordinary table salt. In another glass, combine 8 ounces of water and a pinch of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Take a few sips from one glass and then a few sips form the other until you've drunk them both. The fruit juice contains the potassium you need, while the salt and baking soda provide sodium. The sugar from the juice and honey helps your absorb electrolytes.

Whether it is one of the sports drinks, pickles, orange, when the temperature is hot and you are out in the sun, partake in these refreshments with your water.

Your body will thank you.


THL Blase di Angelo
Kingdom Chirurgeon


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